FactFictionFancy is back Again – Horribilizing

I just opened my mailbox, and out poured piles of unsolicited letters telling me about all the horrible things that are happening in the world. They want me to know that armagedon is near and that they can save us all from the end of the world if only I will send them money.

I wonder why this triggered a vivid memory of myself, age 6 or so, being washed out toward the ocean by a big wave, and there, standing between me and the big waves, were my daddy’s legs. These people want me to be afraid of the sea of life — and they want me to believe they are my daddy.

The fact is:

1. they can’t save us all;
2. if you offer them something that isn’t money they won’t even answer your letters or emails (I tried);
3. they are very careful to NOT talk about the problem and what causes it, but only the horrible things that have already happened that nobody can change.

I wonder why that is?

Maybe I should send them a little brochure that says:

“Are you afraid I will find out that the money I send to you will not fix the problem?” But they wouldn’t even care about that. They only look at the envelopes with dollars in them.

The fact is nobody can fix any problem unless we work together to discover the cause of the problem and fix THAT. And if we really fixed the problem, they would be out of business, wouldn’t they.

Charitable efforts that are done for the wrong reason do help some of the people. No matter how good the charity is, however, if the charitable work is done for the wrong reasons it will help some of the people after they are hurting, but at the same time it will strengthen the the system that made them hurt in the first place.

Are you a Man or a Trained Elephant?

When humans originated in the ecosystem, we looked to the power of the natural balance of the life to define our evolution; now we look to the corporations. The corporations define our wants and needs and drive our survival behaviors very much in the same way that my grandparents bred, raised and trained the horses they used for farming and transportation. We are the livestock the corporations breed, raise and train to turn the wheels of their voracious growth. Their training methods — the right touch on the TV to make us want what they have to sell (tobacco is in the news again for hooking children; the medical community as a drug pusher), and the fake debates they generate that keep us competing with each other, rather than forming communities for our common welfare (imagine convincing individuals that they are more important than people, and turning the religion of love into a killing machine).

Unfortunately, in the battle between the corporations and the ecosystem, we know who will win in the long term; and the corporations know from nothing. But for now the corporations are winning. They have convinced us that growth is more important than balance and that debate is more useful than discussion and community.

090525TGT_dsc1340LSs copyI have one friend who was nose-in-the-air when she saw that I live in a singlewide mobil home in the middle of a pasture. And so I asked myself the question, what would I add? I would change two things for real benefit: I would replace the yucky carpet with linoleum, and I would add solar. Otherwise, I have shelter, food, heat and air, hot and cold running water and a toilet and electricity and I owe nothing to any bank. Any changes I might make would not be to benefit myself or my community, but only to show other people that I can buy more stuff than they can.

Those corporations really have us sucking at their teats.

And they aren’t even alive.

Fake Debates. Creationism

090530cloud_dsc1457SsWould you set out to debate whether the picture of the Texas sky is more real than the sky? Or the clouds? Or the light that shines on the sensors in my camera?

They are real. They are not comparable things, but you can not debate which is more real. They are all real.

Would you set out to debate whether philosophy or science is more true?

They are both true. Philosophy is a true method of trying to understand the reality of the creation of which we are a small part. Science is a different true method. We can use one method or another method, but if we want to know as much as we possibly can, we will use both methods and add up the results. Because these methods are different, they tell us different truths.

And if you can’t see anything outside your own discipline, then you will never learn anything you don’t already know.

Fake Debates. Torture.

Changing the subject, loss leaders, asking the wrong question. The purpose of any of these so-called debates is to avoid discussing the issue. The debate about whether or not torture is torture is probably a lot of fun for some people. It allows us to get all excited about something that is not the issue. The issue is that:

1) All high government officials take an oath to support the constitution of the United States of America, and

2) The constitution of the United States of America declares the President and other high officials are required to honor the treaties and agreements of our country, and

3) Torture is a war crime and a crime in the United States of America, both because we agreed to honor the Geneva Convention, and because torture is a crime in the United States of America. It has nothing to do with whoever we don’t like or why we are at war.

Without the rule of law we have no United States of America. Under the rule of law, people must be held responsible for what they choose to do. Otherwise, there is no rule of law. Torturing is illegal. Nobody forced anybody to torture. It’s not possible to force anyone to torture other people.

When we choose to break the law, we know what the consequences are. We make that choice freely and accept the consequences, or we change the law — first and legally.

There is nothing to debate here.

But if we live in a culture where only two human values remain — winning, losing — then of course no discussion is possible and nothing is left to us but the mini-wars of fake debates. And we have shackled our souls to the shame and denial of our own abusive behavior.

How to Fritter Away your Future

Playing silly one-up games with other people’s lives. Also known as fiddling while Rome burns.

Wattsupwiththat is playing games with outdated data about sea level rise, I’m not sure what is the point of the exercise. I sent this to a friend of mine who is a Professor at a major university medical school. Here is the response:

“The site you indicated here has a long series of comments ridiculing the observed and predicted sea level rises and saying they are either nonexistent or not enough to bother about. Maybe you knew that. So it is the out-of-date figure of 0.3 m that they are all laughing at. Even that wouldn’t be so laughable if one lived in Bangladesh or Holland or the Maldives.”

Apparently the glacier melt is not included in the raw data you were trying to interpret, and the current most accurate estimate is 0.8 meters by end of century. Almost three feet.

Now consider the expected population by end of century and wonder to yourself — do you think all those people will go quietly into their black night? Or might they be trying to find a way to benefit from our advantages here above sea level?

Rather than Fritter our time away trying to nit-pick the experts, I think it would be better to spend that time trying to determine what are the REAL facts and considering what is the best way to benefit the most people in the next generations.

Maybe persons who are really interested in projected sea level rise would want access up-to-date, peer-reviewed information about projected sea-level rise.

W. T. Pfeffer, et al.
Kinematic Constraints on Glacier Contributions to 21st-Century Sea-Level Rise Science 321, 1340 (2008); 10.1126/science.1159099

http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/321/5894/1340

This article cites 19 articles, 7 of which can be accessed for free:
http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/321/5894/1340#otherarticles

A list of selected additional articles on the Science Web sites related to this article can be found at:
http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/321/5894/1340#related-content

Science and Evolution

I had lunch today with a friend who told me about the university professors up north.  They can’t wait for winter, she told me, when they can actually SEE their words of wisdom emerge from their mouths in a frosty puff of air.

Been there, done that.  Scientists can be very irritating, pompous, puffed up and egotistical.

Fortunately for us all, there is a method that tends to rein in the scientific ego.  More importantly, this method draws a sharp, strict line between the scientific opinions of scientists and their personal opinions.  This of course involves the scientific method, and specifically the part that requires publication in a refereed journal.  Refereed means other scientists evaluate the paper before it can be published.

Basic scientists (I’m not talking about technology here) — science requires that people who engage in research must publish that research before their efforts are recognized as valid.  That’s not like getting a poem published, or a letter to the editor.  It requires that the article be reviewed by other scientists who do the same kind of work.  Competitors.  The reviewers read the research very carefully, looking for mistakes, misinterpretations, or inappropriate use of data.  This is for the benefit of the author and of the reviewers and for the progress of scientific knowledge.  If any bad science or mistaken opinions make it through the review process, everyone would be embarrassed.  It has happened – and they were.

This system, believe me, is tough, but I have made it through a few times as you can see by Google or PubMed.

And my point is?  Besides blowing hot air.

My point is, when you are trying to evaluate conflicting claims about things that are scientific, public debates usually are not very useful.  It’s already been debated firmly and politely, and I will say wonderfully collaboratively,  in the review process.  If you want to go to the trouble to understand the scientists’ results, and you want to discuss these results with the scientist, most scientists are located in universities.  Their job is education.  If you are genuinely well informed and if you have an original idea or an important question, scientists are usually accessible by email.

If you have been hearing someone in Austin ranting and raving over the past few weeks, and trying to debate important issues that we all should be working together to solve for the benefit of the community, you can be pretty sure there is some kind of Misdirect going on.  Look them up on google and PubMed, and check out their record of publication in peer reviewed journals before you decide whether or not their opinion is equally as well informed as that of the scientists.

This advice applies only to peer reviewed science published in scientific journals.  Other methods of inquiry, other than science, do not use the scientific method, and many do not enforce a peer review system.

Then you will still need to decide which is more important, the short-term power of the loud stump speech or the long term power of raising up a generation of students who are competent and competitive because they know the difference between science and other things and they know how to use the scientific method to evaluate fact-based reality.

Because when nearly all the published, peer-reviewed biologists agree on something — it’s not “just” a theory.

Evolution

Here I was in the middle of writing something really important about global warming, and it seems what is warming up faster is some silly games about evolution.  Dominance games of course.  They have little to do with either religion or science.

For religion, you probably believe that God created the universe.  Are you telling me that you know exactly when and how he did this?  I mean — you are as smart as God that you understand everything about Him??

Well, I am a biologist/scientist, and I am not as smart as God and I do not understand everything about him, but I do know that evolution exists and also I know that the process of evolution is one of the fundamental realities of nature.  I mean it is now, and there is no doubt whatever about that.  Not only we can see it and measure it — we can also do it and we do it all the time.

So the question becomes — did or did not God create nature?

I don’t know the answer to that, and frankly I don’t very much care because I know that nature exists and I exist, and I don’t think it’s my job to second-guess God.  I also know the question has nothing to do with science.  Science is the study of measurable facts using the scientific method and it was invented by human people.

So maybe God created the earth and  I’m sure he did it however he thought was the best way.

Can anyone explain what we are fighting about?  I mean other than  what person has better words  than what other person?

Or do we just like to fight?  That would not be a very Christian attitude it seems to me.

“Faith, hope and love.  And the greatest of these is ”  (surely not fighting).